Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews has at least temporarily blocked an attempt by a parliamentary committee to indict President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on charges of crimes against humanity, stating that Canada has no jurisdiction to do so.
Responding to efforts by Liberal member of parliament Keith Martins to pass a motion in parliament indicting Mr. Mugabe for crimes against humanity, Toews sent a letter to Martin's foreign affairs and international development committee stating his position that Canada did not have the legal right to bring charges against Mr. Mugabe.
Elaborating, Toews said that President Mugabe as a sitting head of state was immune under international law to such a legal pursuit. In addition, he said, there was no link between Canada and the victims of the alleged human rights offenses.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to Canada Florence Chideya hailed the decision in a written statement, saying Zimbabwe is committed to protecting human rights. But Martin’s office said it will continue to seek a way to bring indictment against Mr. Mugabe.
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe sought the opinion of constitutional law lecturer Greg Linington of the University of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Executive Director Gabriel Shumba, recently in Canada to press for Mr. Mugabe’s indictment, said the decision was a disappointment.